The Biebl "Ave Maria", a 1964 setting of the Ave Maria and Angelus chants by Austrian composer Franz Biebl, is a men's choral work that has become a signature piece for the Virginia Glee Club. First performed by the Glee Club in the 1970s, the work is a centerpiece of the group's Christmas concerts, and is often performed at Finals concerts as well.

The work is written for seven voice parts, a four part men's chorus and a trio of male voices singing antiphonally. In Glee Club performance, the trio part is generally taken by graduating members, and the performance of the work at Finals concerts represents the final farewell to these members. Accordingly, the work carries great emotional weight for the members of the group.

Some sources credit the Cornell Glee Club for the introduction of the work into the United States in 1970. The work gained worldwide fame through its recording on the album Our Heart's Joy by Chanticleer.[1] In 1997, current Virginia Glee Club conductor Frank Albinder wrote of meeting Biebl and performing the Ave for him as a member of Chanticleer:

...last night we sang for the first time in Munich, the current home town of Franz Biebl. We had extended an invitation to the concert to him through our German agent, but we weren't sure if he would actually make it. He is after all, 90 years old. Well, he's pretty spry for 90, and he came (all by himself!) to hear us sing. You can imagine how exciting it was to meet this legendary figure... Unfortunately , we hadn't programmed his "Ave Maria" for this tour, but when we found out he was in the audience, we decided to sing it as an encore. After we sang the piece and acknowledged him in the audience, he slowly made his way to the stage of the Herkulessaal (in Munich's historic Residenz) and personally offered thanks and shook the hand of each member of the group...[2]

Recordings[edit | edit source]

The Biebl "Ave Maria" is among the most performed and recorded works in the Glee Club's repertoire; it appears on all the Glee Club's modern recordings except Songs of Virginia.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Skeels, Wilbur (2004). "Ave Maria program note". Cantus Quercus Press. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  2. "Chanticleer meets Franz Biebl". Archived from the original on 2011-06-25. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
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